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Why are those people in this crowded photo staring at you so intently? There’s a camera, so it’s a film shoot. For clues, look at the general surroundings. It’s an industrial area of New York. The styles of the cars, haircuts and clothes suggest the very early ‘70s. The man pointing a light meter at you is Gordon Willis. The anxious-looking man with the bushy beard is Francis Coppola. It’s the spring of 1971, fifty years ago, and you’re an actor in “The Godfather”. You have no idea what audiences will think of the finished film. In truth, neither do Gordy or Francis.
Acting is always tougher than it looks, and doing it in the streets, with crowds behind barricades, is often the toughest of all. On a sound stage, or on Broadway, you don’t have to outshout jets landing at La Guardia, sanitation men filling garbage trucks, sirens, dogs, or drunks yelling, “Where’s Brando?” When that camera rolls, you’re supposed to shut out all that you see and hear in front of you, and inhabit the mind of a mafia don’s son in December 1945.